20 years ago, WordPress found its way into this world and I have been working with it almost from the beginning. Well, 3 years after the first version launched and then again 5 years later.
It was 2003 when I moved back to the US. After a divorce and a child in my arms, I wanted to find a job that allowed me to stay home and raise my son but alas, the concept of distributed teams didn’t exist back then.
One day, at a FOSE conference (a cool IT conference/trade show for government in DC), I was standing right by the Macromedia booth and I got the lucky winning number and went home with a full Macromedia set in a plastic case with about 6 CDs.
About a year later, I discovered I could set my own business as a virtual assistant. I could work from my computer and stay home to care for my son. Except that I needed to learn how to build a website.
Working on the Internet
I learned that Macromedia had a software called Dreamweaver and I could build a website with it. Since I am pretty good at following instructions, I started asking around. Firefox wasn’t very helpful and Google wasn’t the information monster it is now. So I hit the library for books about Dreamweaver and Fireworks.
Once at the library, I realized I had forgotten the sticky note with the names of the programs so I opted for my memory and I got 2 books: Dreamweaver 7 and something that was Fire-something. That Fire-something book turned out to be a book on how to install and search on Firefox ????. I didn’t give up.
Back then, I was also a member of a group called DC Web Women, a group of women in tech founded sometime in the 90s. Those women were my source of truth and I literally learned how to build my first website by asking questions.
While in the process someone recommended I checked WordPress out, perhaps it could helped me out with the buttons and the menu, which were the 2 things I struggled the most.
Meeting my nemesis
My first visit to WordPress.org was sometime in 2006, I looked for documentation and immediately, the Codex became my nemesis. I am not a developer, have never been a developer and will never become a developer, but the documentation in the Codex made me say something like ‘holy cannoli this is written for geniuses.” I ran away from WordPress and finished my first website with the help of Dreamweaver and Fireworks in CSS and HTML.
Since that first visit, I became obsessed with documentation and simple language. I studied a lot to learn my way around the internet and I loved talking to my clients in an easy-to-understand language, zero developer jargon.
2010, the year I fell in love with WordPress
Around 2010, I took a class at the Northern Virginia Community College and learned how to build a website in WordPress. Someone had to teach me cause the Codex was still incomprehensible to me.
Until the year 2017, I built about 30 WordPress sites for small businesses, not many because it wasn’t really the focus of my own business but I enjoyed it and had fun with it.
2017 was also the year I moved back to The Netherlands and I discovered the WordPress community. That year I attended my first WordCamp in Utrecht and ventured to WCEU Belgrade in 2018. Being in The Netherlands helped me get close to the Dutch community, they helped me navigate my way around the global community. In Belgrade I met many members from the Spanish community, my forever friends.
Contributing to WordPress
It was during WC Utrecht that I learned about contributor day, I didn’t do much the first time. I walked around the venue, moving from table to table, totally lost and in awe at the same time. They were some of the people that helped build the software I so much loved!!
Contributor Day at WCEU in Belgrade was intense and the design team weekly meetings on Slack were like lessons on steroids. I learned more about WordPress in a month than I did in 7 years.
For the next few years, I volunteered at WordCamps in The Netherlands and then at WCEU in Berlin. It was Contributor Day in WCEU 2019 when I faced my nemesis again, the Codex, but I didn’t know. It was the day I was invited to help redesign the documentation pages on WordPress.org. Several meetings later, I realized that some Codex articles were moved to HelpHub, the end-user documentation, and others to DevHub or developers.wordpress.org. The Codex lifeline is expiring.
I still contribute to WordPress and have huge plans for my future contributions so the rest of the story will be another long post about my contributions to HelpHub, personal struggles and the support of the WordPress community.